Monday, February 19, 2024

New Documentary on Artist Jacob Kainen

The Jacob Kainen Art Trust has enlisted the award-winning director Mark Covino (A Band Called Death, The Crest), and producer Jon Gann (Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color, Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection) to create a short documentary exploring the life and art of Jacob Kainen (1909-2001), one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

“Jacob Kainen: An Artists’ Artist” follows the life of Kainen, a prolific but often overlooked artist of 20th Century America. From his immigrant upbringing to his rebellious artistic journey in NYC, his leftist ideologies and eventual impact on the D.C. art scene, Kainen’s story is one of perseverance and passion.

Despite facing challenges like McCarthyism and career limitations, he found solace in his art, especially with the support of his second wife, Ruth. His legacy as an artist’s artist and influential mentor endures, shaping generations of artists to come.

Jacob was not only a beloved painter and printmaker, but also as a curator, mentor, teacher, and a major force in developing the post-war Washington, D.C. art scene. His work is featured in major museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Narrated in Kainen’s own voice, unearthed from a treasure trove of recently discovered tapes, the film promises an intimate portrayal of the artist's tumultuous journey. His story will be further explored by curators Jonathan F. Walz (The Columbus Museum) and Seth Feman (Frist Art Museum), alongside perspectives from prominent art historians, artists, and Kainen’s own son, Dan Kainen, audiences will be immersed in the rich tapestry of Kainen’s life and artistry.

While the initial funds have been secured, the project seeks additional support to license archival materials, ensuring the preservation of Kainen’s legacy for posterity. Every contribution paves the way for a deeper understanding of Kainen’s impact on the art world and his influence on future generations of artists.

“Kainen’s role in shaping American modernism, particularly in Washington, D.C., is a narrative long overdue for exploration. This documentary serves as a vital conduit for a new generation of art enthusiasts and historians to rediscover his profound contributions,” remarks Jonathan F. Walz, curator at The Columbus Museum.

More information on the project is online at